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In-Vitro Fertilization

IVF and why it may be applicable to you

By: Maya Goyal

September 20, 2021


It is human nature to plan for anything that comes our way. We are designed to be neurotic engineers of preparation. What if I told you there are factors in our life that are out of our control? Your reproductive journey is one that will be full of unexpected curveballs and at RepLI, we are here to help you navigate this journey with as much control as possible.

In this article, I will explore in vitro fertilization, which is also known as IVF. I will summarize situations it may be used and detail the reproductive journey of a young couple whose unique situation drove them to consider IVF.


In vitro fertilization is a form of ART or assisted reproductive technology. According to the CDC, ART is defined as any fertility treatment in which eggs or embryos are handled. ART is a broad categorization for infertility alternatives in which IVF is one branch, but it is the most common and effective form. IVF also breaks down into multiple further branches and approaches, but I will begin by explaining the general methodology behind infertility.

When battling infertility, couples first commonly explore fertility methods such intrauterine insemination and laparoscopy. Infertility can be stimulated from either the male or female side. So, these methods normally assist both genders either through hormone adjustments or surgery.

Intrauterine insemination involves the injection of sperm into the uterus which can increase the chance of fertilization, as pictured to the left. This method helps situations in which the male sperm contribution is stunted. It is minimally invasive and moderately affordable, making it an ideal and easy first step.

Another option is minor surgery. A laparoscopy is to observe organs more closely in your abdomen. This is considered an infertility treatment because in some cases, infertility can be prompted by growths on the uterus. These can block the sperm from meeting the egg. These growths (or fibroids) are common since they can result from surgeries, any infection, or inflammatory response. If a growth is found, removal is possible during the laparoscopy and will consequently increase the mobility for sperm within the uterus and fallopian tube.

If these options are deemed unsuccessful, couples turn to IVF, which can be a more definite alternative for infertility. IVF works using a variety of procedures and medications to first assist with sperm fertilization of the egg, and then implant the egg into the uterus.


IVF can be broken down into 5 different stages:

  1. The first step is ovulation induction where the female’s ovaries are essentially driven into overtime to increase fertility chances. Normally, one egg is dropped per month, but this step aims to produce several. This is initiated by medicines that boost egg production through the release of excess hormones. Then, when the time comes for egg retrieval, medication is taken to mature the eggs and prevent the body from releasing the eggs too soon.

  2. The second step is egg retrieval in which minimally invasive surgery is performed to extract eggs from the female. Most commonly, a needle is inserted into the ovary and pulls eggs out of each follicle. In some cases, an ultrasound may be used to assist navigation, or donated eggs are used if the female cannot produce sufficient eggs. The retrieved eggs are then placed in an incubator. Throughout the first two steps, ultrasounds and blood tests are performed to monitor the patient’s well-being and catch any deficiencies.

  3. The third step is sperm retrieval, which can be obtained as a semen sample from the partner or a donor sperm. The collected sample is separated in a lab to remove excess liquid.

  4. Next comes fertilization either through conventional insemination or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The first mixes the egg and sperm and places it into an incubator. ICSI individually injects one sperm into each egg. The latter is more tedious but is used in instances where the quality of either component is compromised.

  5. Embryo transfer is the final step. A catheter and syringe will be used to inject one or more embryos into your uterus through the vagina. An implanted egg about 6-10 days after egg retrieval indicates a successful transfer. Approximately one week after, a blood pregnancy test is performed to determine the result of the IVF.


IVF is explored in the case of infertility. To test infertility, male sperm normally are analyzed for their health. Women are tested for normal hormone levels and regular ovulation, both of which affect how a sperm might meet an egg in the body. The fallopian tubes can also be affected or damaged. All these complications can be triggered by several factors.

Approximately ⅓ of infertile cases involve the male. Problems with sperm output can be affected by unrelated diseases like diabetes or a variety of STDs. Genetic deformities in male reproductive organs have proved to disturb fertility as well.

Another ⅓ of cases involve the female. Advanced age puts women at higher risk of infertility as less eggs are readily available. Older women are also more susceptible to complications in unassisted pregnancy. A more uncommon cause is damaged fallopian tubes which can be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease or prior pregnancy complications.

The last ⅓ of cases involve factors that affect both genders. Cancer has an impact directly and indirectly. Cancerous bodies that physically sit on reproductive organs can affect fertility. However, the most significant effect arises from indirect effects. The first is treatment like radiation or chemotherapy. This can blunt sperm production and damage its health too. Environmental effects include overexposure to toxic substances such as smoking, alcohol, or drugs, all of which can affect one’s health and subsequently one’s ability to reproduce. Finally, cases do exist that are left unexplained, which illustrates the foreign nature of this topic.


In vitro fertilization has its benefits but with any good thing comes the costs and risks. IVF does not have a set price as insurance coverage varies but the cost hovers around $15,000 and can increase with more medication or complications. The costliness can be attributed to the variety of infertility treatments available. I hope that in the future, as more efficient and cheaper methods are researched, this number goes down because infertility is mostly unpreventable and affects people with different socioeconomic statuses. It seems unfair that fertility is only available to those who can afford it.

IVF is also a risky process with invasive procedures and unpredictable results. First, there is a risk that pregnancy doesn’t result at all. There are several risks flagged with each step as well that can affect the result. For example, the transfer of embryos is deemed to be more successful with more developed embryos. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol, or drugs can also affect IVF through the egg, sperm, or pregnancy.

In addition, there are extensive side effects that accompany the stages of IVF. There are hormonal side effects that can prompt bloating, cramping, mood changes, and headaches. Medication side effects can trigger allergic reactions. Finally, there are bleeding and infection risks with any surgery or invasive procedure. So, it’s important to assess whether the benefits outweigh the costs before deciding to begin the process.


I interviewed a couple, Patient A and B, who are now in the “I’m Done” stage in their reproductive journey. While they did reach their desired family planning goal, there were bumps along the road that steered them towards unconventional methods to reach their destination.